The following short story, The Tree Stand, written by Jean Desmarais is in response to a prompt given during one of the Writers Writing Group (WWG) meetings. Jean has been working on developing her skill of writing for about three years now. She is pleased and honored to share with you her short story.
THE TREE STAND
by Jean Desmarais
The air is cool, the leaves are starting to turn, and some of them are falling off the trees. There is frost on the ground. The grass crackles when you walk on it. A tree stand is in one of the trees with two hunters inside.
As dawn comes on, the deer come out of their sleeping places to find something to eat. The hunters, wide-awake now, watch the fields as the deer come to graze in the woods.
Joseph wanted to talk with his companion, Charles since they arrived in the woods.
“I don’t think that I can shoot any of those deer although it is open season for bucks. They look so innocent and graceful running out there in the field.”
Charles nodded his head.
“They are one of God’s creatures, Charles. When I was younger, I had to help other hunters clean their kill. It turned my stomach so much then. Now, I can’t stand the thought of killing of one of them, and then eating its meat. Haven’t you ever wondered why I never was able to get a shot off in time to make a kill?”
Charles nodded his head, again. “Yes, Joseph. I’ve felt sorry for you. After all the times that we have been hunting together, you’ve never made a shot. I thought you were a bad shot. But, you kept on trying. Why do you keep coming out here if you feel you can’t kill a deer?”
“Well, I guess it is a guy thing. I do enjoy your company, but not like this. I guess I don’t know how to say no to you when you ask me to come along.”
Both men look at each other and grin. They turn back, look out through the slats of the deer stand, and continue to wait for the deer to come closer. Charles, who is a good shot, motions that he sees a buck running the trees in front of them. He manages to get off a good shot.
“Bingo! Charles, you got your deer with the first shot!” Joseph was proud of his friend.
Charles and Joseph walk through the woods to where the deer was laying.
“You got an eight pointer!”
Charles reaches down to the ground, touches it, and says, “We will gut the deer here, move the carcass closer to the deer stand, and then we can go get the truck. The ground is too uneven and soft for the truck to come this far. We’d get stuck for sure.”
As they prepare to gut the deer, Joseph looks at Charles. “I hope I don’t get sick on you. The first cutting is the worst for me.”
“You just hold the back legs, and I will get the horns so I can cut the deer open. I’ll need to get the guts out. We will throw the guts over there for other animals to eat.”
“How much will it dress out do you think?”
“Probably, around 120 pounds and that’s about average.”
As Charles cuts into the deer, the smell of hot blood overwhelms Joseph and he moans.
“You don’t seem to be turning white, Joseph,” Charles laughs.
“I can’t look into those eyes,” Joseph replies.
After the two men finished gutting the deer, Charles grabs the deer by the antlers while Joseph picks up the hind legs. They carry it to the deer stand where they lay it down and go get the truck.
“I was watching you, Joseph, to see if your face was turning white, but you managed well. Once we get the deer in the truck, it won’t take us long to get back to my house.”
“As we walk, my nausea seems to be going away,” Joseph says.
“I know you own a meat-packing plant. But, Joseph. Tell me how you manage to get by the blood thing there?”
“You raise a good question. I own the plant. I don’t have to be in the back where the blood and gore is. You get the job done. It doesn’t seem like the blood and gore bother you at all. I’m glad you’re the one doing that work.”
After moving the truck next to the deer, they toss the deer over the lowered tailgate and up on the truck bed. They secure the deer so as they drive out of the woods it will not slide around.
“The wind blowing on my face helps me with my sickness. I think I’m not as green as I was.”
“You’re not white. That’s for sure.” They laugh.
Charles pulls into his driveway; they get out. Together, they tie the deer up by the horns in a tree, and then they skin it from the shoulders down. Joseph manages to keep his nausea away. He tries not to smell the foul odor or pay attention to the sound of deerskin ripping away. Once it is skinned, Charles cuts the deer into quarters.
“Do you want a roast or something?” Charles asks as he lays a large portion of the deer on a nearby table.
“No. Now, you will make me sick if I have to touch it. Give my portion of the meat to someone who will enjoy it.”
“Would you like to go fishing or boating sometime when the weather warms up?”
“That sounds good to me, but I will not clean the fish for you either.”
“Good. You had better get some sleep, Joseph. I’ll pick you up at 4:00 in the morning.”
“Yeah, Charles, I’ll be ready.
As Joseph drives away, he thinks about him and Charles going fishing. Now that Charles is aware of his fear of blood, it should make things easier for him. They will probably discuss his problem again, some day. He realizes that he has a good friend in Charles and that Charles will accept his fears.
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